What Happened to the Skeptical Environmentalist
37 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2002
Date Written: November 18, 2002
This essay focuses on the critical reaction to Bjorn Lomborg's book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. After the book was glowingly reviewed in the Washington Post, the Economist, and other influential publications, it was critically reviewed in Scientific American, Nature, and Science and criticized by environmental organizations. The criticism went beyond trying to show him wrong on environmental policy to claim that he should be disqualified as a participant in debates on environmental policy. The basis for the disqualification was that he does not understand the science or was disingenuous in his treatment of it. In analyzing this effort to disqualify him, this essay adopts the method used by our colleague Annette Gordon-Reed in her book, THOMAS JEFFERSON AND SALLY HEMMINGS. Gordon-Reed evaluated the efforts to discount the African American witnesses who claimed that Thomas Jefferson fathered the children of Sally Hemmings as a court would. This essay evaluates each of the reasons that the key scientific reviews give for disqualifying Lomborg from the perspective of a court faced with an argument against hearing an expert witness. Our conclusion: the court should hear this witness. That does not mean that Mr. Lomborg's factual conclusions are invariably correct or that he has the right policy prescriptions, but rather that those who disagree need to contend with him on the merits rather than peremptorily dismissing him.
Keywords: Lomborg, Skeptical Environmentalist, environment, science
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